By S. Chandrasekhar
The BJP seems to have come out of the UDF, LDF jinx and has emerged as a powerful third alternative in Kerala politics. It has obtained representation in four out of the five corporations, has a strength of 84 municipal corporators in 30 of the 54 municipalities and is the largest single party in Palakkad Municipality. Moreover, its strength in local bodies has increased from 222 to 573. It came second in 1050 wards and in more than 100 wards it lost by just five votes. It is the main opposition in two municipalities?Kasargod and Koothuparambu?and its strength is decisive in almost 70 local bodies, not to mention the nine panchayats where BJP has a clear majority.
The historic win of the BJP has to be seen in the background of the bipolar politics existing in the State for over four decades, which does not allow space for a third alternative. The Congress-led UDF'smain strength is the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress, which represent the 46 per cent Christians and Muslims. The CPM on the other hand, through its Stalinist approach, had been maintaining its strength through an iron hand. The BJP, which already has a committed vote-bank of 12-13 per cent of the electrorate, surprised the political pundits by registering its presence and displaying that it is a winning party. It has won seats in both UDF and LDF strongholds giving it renewed confidence to make an entry into the Kerala Assembly.
The BJP victory in CPM strongholds like Palakkad, Thalassery and Koothuparambu is highly commendable. CPM employed all the tricks in the trade to usurp the entire electoral process in its favour. Opposing candidates were forced to withdraw nominations in almost 100 wards in north Kerala, with the police and district administration remaining silent spectators. Money and muscle power of unbelievable proportions were employed to demoralise BJP voters. Moreover, as part of its long-term strategy, appeasement of the extreme order was done to woo the Muslims, especially jehadi elements like NDF, PDP, and Jamait-i-Islami. Veteran CPM leader V.S. Achuthanandan was not allowed to campaign in north Kerala (due to his tough stand against jehadi elements) by the CPM leadership. The situation became so bad in Kannur, a district famous for CPM-RSS clashes and party villages, that armed police had to be imported from Karnataka and insurance policy taken for poll staff by Election Commission.
The BJP victory in CPM strongholds like Palakkad, Thalassery and Koothuparambu is highly commendable. CPM employed all the tricks in the trade to usurp the entire electoral process to its favour.
Owing to the BJP'santi-CPM posture, the Congress had in the past been considering it a ?B? team of the UDF. Highlighting the negative effects of CPM victory, the Congress and the UDF had been exploiting the situation to obtain pro-BJP votes. The Congress thought that it had a divine right to obtain BJP votes. But the situation changed when P.S. Sreedharan Pillai took charge as BJP President. He asserted that leakage of BJP votes to UDF and ?vote hijacking? in the name of anti-CPM will be prevented at any cost. ?What is the tamasha of kushti in Kerala and dosti in Delhi, where both are one?? he asked.
BJP?only alternative to Stalinist CPM?registers spectacular victory against odds.
The BJP victory has almost led to the collapse of the Congress. Its Hindu voters have shifted to BJP and CPM, courtesy Karunakaran'sparty. Although the flow is a bit slow, Muslims and Christians are slowly shifting to the CPM-led LDF. There is a strong resentment among the Nair-Ezhava community on the CPM'sefforts to woo the minorities. Moreover, with minorities cornering all the benefits due to their money and manpower, there is unity of efforts on the part of the NSS and SNDP, to emerge as a pan-Hindu confederation enveloping all Hindu communities.
The BJP has established good contacts with the NSS, SNDP and other Hindu organisations like Pulayar Mahasabha. The BJP has proved that is a winning party and it is in a position to take on the Stalinist CPM and its cell-rule, both physically and politically and emerge as the second force in Kerala pushing the Congress out of the centre-stage.